MORGANTOWN — Morgantown City Council and the Monongalia County Commission have stepped up financially to help provide a temporary replacement for In Touch and Concerned (ITAC), the recently defunct nonprofit that provided hundreds of non-emergency medical transports each month.
ITAC closed its doors Aug. 10, citing more than $100,000 in outstanding debt.
On Wednesday, the commission voted to provide no more than $10,000, but specified the anticipated contribution would be $6,000.
The previous evening, Morgantown City Council voted unanimously to contribute $4,000.
The funds will be used to cover the cost of vehicles and drivers until Nov. 30. The effort is not only a stopgap measure to assist clients left stranded without ITAC, but an attempt to show partners EZ Transport and Visiting Homemakers that there is a viable business model they can move forward with.
“I gave my word to the city manager and to EZ Transport that we’re doing it only for two months,” Commission President Tom Bloom said. “We will not go past there, and if so, we’ll turn it back over to LogistiCare … But I really believe within four weeks we’ll be able to resolve this issue.”
LogistiCare is the company hired by the state to oversee non-emergency medical transport of Medicaid patients. EZ Transport is the only local firm approved by LogistiCare to provide the services.
Local non-profit Visiting Homemakers will be involved with the hope that after Nov. 30, it can essentially take over the program.
“The way the law reads, if you have a non-profit they can apply for a federal grant to oversee and run this kind of transport. Then they don’t have to pay for the actual vans that are provided to them through LogistiCare and the state,” Bloom said, noting stakeholders will meet on Oct. 18 to evaluate how the plan is working.
“If the process is running smoothly, which I believe it will, Visiting Homemakers has agreed to set up a contract with them and EZ Transport for three years to be the non-profit to oversee the program,” he said.
Visiting Homemakers will also provide reassurance calls to homebound clients just as ITAC had previously.
Bloom said the working group is pursuing vehicles, specifically wheelchair accessible vans. He said EZ Transport’s vehicles are not equipped to handle wheelchairs, meaning those calls must go through LogistiCare for the time being.
Medicaid clients or clients who need wheelchair accommodation need to call LogistiCare at 844-549-8353.
For non-wheelchair patients who wish to pay privately, contact EZ Transport at 304-322-2863.
Bloom said his understanding is that rides will not exceed $20 one-way, or $40 roundtrip.
The first trips were offered under this new arrangement on Sept. 17.
City Councilor Ron Dulaney said he was pleased the city got involved.
“I think this is a wonderful contribution, and it shows that the city is working with the broad-based community to try to solve this unexpected problem,” Dulaney said. “It is a crisis for many folks in our community.”
In other county news:
Flu shots will be available for county employees from 8:30 a.m.- 10 a.m. on Oct. 4. Call the commission office at 291-7257 to schedule an appointment.